NASCAR power rankings: Joey Logano slices to No. 1

Drew Hallowell

A victory in Richmond vaults Joey Logano to No. 1 in the weekly NASCAR power rankings.

Even before he turned a lap of competition in a NASCAR national touring division race, Joey Logano had nickname befitting a superstar: "Sliced Bread," as in the best thing since. It took a bit longer than some expected and a fresh start with a new team, but the 23-year-old is very much living up to the billing that accompanied his arrival six years ago.

1. Joey Logano (Last week: 6)

Never before has Logano won multiple races in season nor recorded a victory on a short track. Both those feats were accomplished this past weekend. More so, the makings for a very special year are in place, and it appears Logano is fully up to the task of taking advantage of the opportunity that has been presented.

2. Jeff Gordon (LW: 1)

Perched atop the standings, Gordon would most likely be on track to winning a fifth Sprint Cup title in a different year and under a different championship. Except this isn't the year, not when winning is most everything. And it's a fact the winless Gordon is all too aware of, candidly saying that he would trade his points lead for a couple of wins.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 2)

Twice within the final 25 laps, Earnhardt restarted second alongside Matt Kenseth. But with a car set up for long runs and brakes that weren't functioning properly, Earnhardt wasn't able to capitalize and so he slid back to finish seventh.

4. Kyle Busch (LW: 3)

Busch's charge from ninth to third in six laps was impressive, and with a few more circuits it may have been him winning for the second time in 2014. Nonetheless, the driver of the No. 18 car has quietly rounded into form with four finishes of sixth or better in the past five weeks.

5. Matt Kenseth (LW: 5)

Low groove, high groove, Kenseth was using both as he desperately tried to fend off Gordon, Logano and Brad Keselowski in the final laps Saturday. Although Kenseth's effort proved futile, the skirmish produced perhaps the best racing of the season, in addition to some fireworks between Kenseth and Keselowski afterward.

6. Kevin Harvick (LW: 7)

For perhaps the first time this year, Harvick didn't have a car capable of winning And while the night may not have ended in Victory Lane, it also didn't end early in the garage like so many other times this season. At some point this team needs to start stringing together some solid runs, which it has now done two weeks in a row.

7. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 4)

The 48 team's Richmond follies continued Saturday this time due to a flat tire, which knocked Johnson four laps off the lead. The defending champ has now gone seven races without a top-five on the Virginia short track, and his average finish in that span is 22.3.

8. Brad Keselowski (LW: 9)

Keselowski had a right to be frustrated with how Richmond concluded, as he felt Kenseth drove him into the wall. But for Keselowski to express that frustration with a brake-check of Kenseth post-race -- which inflicted damage to three cars -- wasn't the way to do it. The only upside was an entertaining Twitter exchange between Keselowski and Kenseth's Joe Gibbs Racing team.

9. Kyle Larson (LW: 9)

His first time starting on the pole was short-lived as contact with Clint Bowyer sent Larson spinning in Turn 1. Bowyer would apologize for the mishap, but it was pointless as Larson never fully recovered. He finished 16th, a frustrating result on a track it appeared the rookie might score his first career win.

10. Carl Edwards (LW: 10)

Edwards' 2014 season is mirroring his 2013 where he won early and then used consistency to maintain his spot near the top of the standings. And all the while he never gives off the appearance of a bona fide championship contender when the Chase rolled around.

11. Ryan Newman (LW: Unranked)

Talladega is not everyone's favorite track, understandably, and Newman  has made his disdain for restrictor-plate racing known. These feelings are more than justified considering his habit of getting upside at the treacherous superspeedway, which has happened twice previously. Then there was this incident from last year.

12. Greg Biffle (LW: 12)

As one streak ended for Biffle -- back-to-back finishes of sixth or better -- at Richmond another continues. He is now 0 for 70 on short tracks in his career.

13. Tony Stewart (LW: 11)

The up-and-down nature of Stewart's season continues, as he was off the pace all night and finished 25th. It was a showing really symbolic of the struggles Stewart-Haas Racing had at Richmond, with Harvick 11th, Kurt Busch 23rd, and Danica Patrick 34th.

14. Brian Vickers (LW: Unranked)

Another solid result (12th) in a season filled with them for Vickers. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver has now finished sixth or better in six of nine races. Not bad for a guy who hasn't run the full schedule since 2011.

15. AJ Allmendinger (LW: Unranked)

Allmendinger continues to be a difference maker for JTG Daugherty Racing, as his sixth-place Saturday was the best finish for the single-car outfit on a short track in nearly four years.

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